I had the awesome fortune of meeting Slutever in Boston last summer when they slept in my living room after a show at PA's Lounge. I was in a really crappy mood, and most of what I remember was sitting in a corner eating pizza Lunchables while a roomful of babes laughed a lot and passed around a spliff I kept declining. Fortunately, since then, I've gotten to spent more time with Slutever and quickly discovered that the Philly grunge duo might just be the coolest girls in the world.
This winter they're releasing a new single, "White Flag," as a flexi-disk [full disclosure: I designed the cover] on Quiet Year Records. The song is an angsty withdrawal from a uninspiring environment and you can stream it for the first time here. Below is my interview with Slutever's Rachel Gagliardi and Nicole Snyder about the song, about Philadelphia, and about getting away.
I feel like you stole these lyrics from my diary/tweet drafts/inner monologue. Who wrote them?
Nicole: I did. I think the first line I wrote for this song actually did come from a tweet draft...
Is the song more or less about Philly?
Rachel: I didnt write the song so it's hard for me to say, but I will say we recorded it at a very transitionary time. Nicole had decided to move to Seattle and we both had grown pretty apathetic towards Philly. Its a very small scene and in a lot of ways that was super helpful when we were first starting out-we had a close group of our friends bands to play with and there was a great community of people supporting DIY music. Slutever is very much a product of the environment it was created in and I think once the environment started feeling stale it was hard for us to write new songs. I think our new material very much reflects how we were feeling-burnt out, stifled, and ready for a change.
Nicole: It's less about Philly and more just the way Philly was making me feel. I felt stuck. I think if I lived in any place for so long I would have felt the same way. I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, went to school in the city, and lived there for two years after that...it was too much. I guess Philly does have some unique attributes that contributed to the specific problems I was having. It's really small. I was seeing the same people every day because I worked at two places that were a block away from each other, and I lived right down the street from there. The monotony of my daily routine was killing me. Philly's also fairly easy to live in, financially speaking, compared to other cities like New York. I was pretty comfortable. There was nothing kicking my ass or motivating me to leave the couch. I was having this constant grass-is-always-greener issue, where if I didn't leave the house, I would feel bad about myself, but when I did go out, I was just sort of absent-minded and wanted to go back home. It just got to a point where I didn't want to do anything but get stoned and watch TV. I was pretty depressed.
The term "white flag" is generally indicative of 'giving up.' Do you think that's an accurate reflection of your stance on Philly?
Nicole: Maybe. I definitely felt beaten down to the point where I did not think I could be successful or happy there. I don't know if it was me giving up, or just knowing that there was more out there that could maybe satisfy me. The song was originally called "Get Out," which maybe would have maybe projected a little more optimism.
Rachel: I was born in Philly and it will forever be my home. I don't feel like I am giving up so much as just growing up!
It's strange to me that "White Flag"--a song I seriously feel is one of your best--was written during a period in which you say "I can't write a song...I can't create I'm not inspired here." Did you somehow find inspiration in being overwhelmingly uninspired?
Nicole: Yeah, I think so. I guess it was like, "Ok, I graduated from college, and now I'm working these dumb minimum-wage part-time jobs," and I was able to justify that to myself because we were going on tour or playing shows pretty often, so in my mind, I was doing what I needed to do. But in reality, we had been focusing so much on playing shows and handling the business side of the band - going to the post office to send mail orders every day, answering emails, making merchandise, etc. - and we didn't focus any of that energy on writing new music, which is so backwards. We'd been playing the same songs at shows for over two years. I just felt like we weren't enjoying doing that, people had already seen us play this stuff. We had conversations where we'd sit there and acknowledge these problems, yet the new music just wasn't coming for some reason. Really the only thing I found myself inspired by was the overwhelming feeling of "FUCK THIS," that I was dealing with. So the only thing I could think to do was to write a song that was really honest and maybe, hopefully, through doing that, I could start to overcome those feelings. The lyrics are not very poetic, it's pretty straightforward, and that has a lot to do with being so fed up with my creative block.
When do you find yourselves at your creative peak? Does it have to do with your surroundings?
Nicole: I guess there are a lot of factors. And if I knew how to achieve my creative peak and harness that energy, my life would be a lot easier and more productive. I did find that moving to a new place invoked a little bit of inspiration. Just being around new people and having a totally new set of problems overnight gave me a lot of perspective, which I really needed. I think it also has a lot to do with what music I'm listening to. I go through phases where I'll really only listen to a few artists at a time for months, and that can influence the types of things I create, but doesn't necessarily influence my overall level of creative output.
Rachel: I think the fact that I started growing weary of my surroundings definitely stunted my creativity. It takes a lot of discipline to sit down and work on art when the mood isn't quite right, and I myself do not posses this skill. I especially feel affected by the weather and the change of seasons. Come winter, I fall into hibernation mode and mostly pass the time in a Netflix/weed/snack haze. It's impossible for me to feel any amount of creative energy. That was a large factor in my decision to move to California.
What made you decide to put the single out as a flexi-disc? I love the idea of a song about feeling used up being distributed on a medium notorious for wearing out quickly. Or maybe I'm reading too much into it.
Nicole: We never really thought about any of that, or at least I didn't. I wish we could say we did, but really someone just asked us if we wanted to put out a flexi and we had this song pretty much ready to go, and that was that. I have come to appreciate the symbolism of the whole release though - not only is it on a flexi-disc, which you're right, wears out pretty quickly, but it's also shaped and designed like a postcard, which seems appropriate since it's coming out around the time we both decided to move across the country. It's kind of like saying goodbye to that chapter of our lives. It all worked out pretty nicely.
How are you going to decide who get's the limited run of flexi-discs?
Nicole: You've thought further ahead than we have! We'll probably just put some for sale online, first-come first-serve, but I'd like to save some to sell at live shows or just down the road at some point. Doing limited release things has always been really fun for us, but it does kind of suck when you sell out of something really quickly and people are disappointed that they can't get a copy. I guess that's just the nature of the beast.
Since you wrote the song have you two been able to "get away."
Rachel: I feel like I am in an entirely different headspace than I was two months ago. As cliche as it sounds, my mid twenties have totally been a period of self-discovery and rude awakenings. I've grown bored in my current lifestyle and have craved a change of pace for so long that I decided to move to California later this month. I plan to drink kale lemonade in the sunshine and write a bunch of new songs and I'm just excited to experience some unfamiliarity!
Nicole: I got away pretty literally. Moving 3,000 miles away from my comfort zone/friends/family definitely forced some perspective on me, which I needed. It helped me to realize what problems were a product of my environment versus which problems were self-inflicted. I feel rejuvenated. I haven't reached the level clarity that I would like to achieve, but I think to do that is a very complicated and ongoing process. Leaving Philadelphia was definitely a step in the right direction.